Miami-Dade School Board Folds Under Pressure, Allows Sex Ed Book Back In Classrooms

After deliberation among its nine members and hours of review, the Miami-Dade School Board reversed its decision on a health and sex education textbook and will allow its use in the coming school year.

On a 5-4 vote, the motion passed on Thursday afternoon with Chair Perla Hantman flipping her vote to approve middle and high school versions of the textbook, “Comprehensive Health Skills.”

Hantman explained that she changed her vote after serious consideration of the state of Florida’s statutes requiring schools to provide “comprehensive, age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate K-12 instruction” on a variety of health subjects, including the benefits of abstinence and consequences of teen pregnancy.”

“We could be penalized by the state,” Hantman said.

Those who disagreed with the book spoke out against the book’s instruction on specific practices, such as how to report abuse to contraception methods, arguing the content was not age material.

Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III, who voted in favor of the books, said that the county board had received hundreds of emails from parents expressing concern and asking the board to reconsider their decision, according to CBS Miami.

Gallon stated that he believed the textbook provided valuable everyday information on HIV implications, human trafficking, AIDS, and hygiene.

“No matter where you come from, from Florida City to County Line Road, children and young people need to understand this information,” said Gallon. “We say education is power. We cannot render our children powerless by denying a segment of our school district access.”

“I voted against it because I don’t feel it is age-appropriate,” school board member Maria Teresa Rojas told 7 News Miami. “There is a portion of the book that is good, but there are portions of the book that should not be there for our students.”

Others who have shown to disapprove of the decision have also argued that some of the subjects the book covers concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion are out of line with legislation Governor Ron DeSantis signed limiting instruction on sex and gender.

Lubby Navarro, a board member, was the most vocal against the reversal, claiming that “The process cannot be reversed”  before leaving the meeting; according to Florida Politics,

The remaining school board members then unanimously approved a short list of conditions under which the textbook can be taught this year. They agreed to:

— Remove from digital versions of the textbook all materials, not age- or developmentally appropriate.

— Establish a “robust” outreach plan informing parents of their ability to opt their children out of related instruction in compliance with the Parents’ Bill of Rights, with notifications to begin at the onset of the school year and continue throughout it.

— Require all changes to the textbook and related lesson plans to be completed at least 60 days before classroom instruction on the materials begins.

Based on conversations with CBS4, concerns over the political pressure from each side over this decision have grown.

Board member Luisa Santos pointed to state law that calls for annual comprehensive health and education reviews, which she believes will facilitate future political debate.

“It is my hope, although I’m concerned, that we will be able to continue to work on behalf of the students and not on behalf of any party,” shared Santos.

Amendments added following the outcome, according to CBS4, aim to ensure greater transparency. Every district middle school and high school parent will be notified of the materials their children will be exposed to, as state law allows parents the choice to opt-out.

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